CAMP SIONGCO AWANG, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao (DWDD) – The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) lost Forty-Four (44) members and Twenty-Six (26) more wounded during the recent 2-day clash with troopers of 6th Infantry “Kampilan” Division (6ID), Philippine Army in Maguindanao province on March 8 and 9, 2018.
Hostilities erupted while elements of the 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion under Lt. Col. Alvin Iyog, while on a martial law – related clearing operations positively identified and engaged the group of a certain Kumander Peni, a BIFF subordinate leader under the Karialan faction. Report coming from the 2Mech Battalion said that they engaged the bandits in a fierce firefight at around 6:00 am, early morning of March 8, 2018, Thursday, at a remote marshy area in Sitio Lapitos, Brgy Lower Salbu, Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao.
Lt. Col. Iyog explained that, “The firefight was so intense and resulted to slightly wounding One (1) of my men but they kept on pounding them with heavy fires. Our soldiers saw how the bandits run for their life leaving behind so many Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), a high powered firearms, ammunitions, and personal belongings that are all stained with so much blood.”
“Some of our equipment were also damaged because we have to swim accross chest-deep water just to get close to the bandits. Cellular phones, handheld radios and other electronic gadgets were all drenched in water but we have to pursuit the fleeing bandits, but we know we hit them fatally,” Lt. Col. Iyog added.
Residents, among those who fled the area relayed to authorities the massing up of forces of the terrorist group prompting the 601st Infantry Brigade under BGEN Carreon to pour in more troops to the area which resulted to another engagements in Barangay Kitango, Datu Saudi Ampatuan and in Barangay Malangog, Datu Unsay, Maguindanao.
Close air support and artillery bombardment was also ordered which pounded more on the positions of the fleeing BIFF bandits and those of the other groups affiliated to them.
The number of BIFF fatalities was recieved by various units of the 6ID and validated by the residents of the affected barangays especially those who evacuated from the area. Some of them, especially the relatives of the fatalities, even led government operatives to the gravesite where they immediately buried their remains. Unfenately, they said, some are not known to them but they have perform the ritual and have to bury them also as part of their tradition.
A local official from Datu Saudi Ampatuan was also qouted in the vernacular that, “there could be more BIFF killed because our relatives in the other barangays told us that they spotted some groups who were carrying with them their casualties”.
The 6th Intantry Division is currently readjusting its forces based on the monitored regrouping of the terrorist group to sustain the current combat gains. “I am very determined to defeat the threat groups and thwart them from doing terroristic activities in Central Mindanao, 6ID Commander, Major General Arnel B Dela Vega said. 6DPAO / MCAG